Indonesia Earthquake & Tsunami hit 1,500


Indonesia's disaster agency says the death toll from the quake and tsunami that struck the Sulawesi island last week has risen to 1,649.

On Friday, the death toll rose to 1,571, according to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management.

Last Friday, a powerful 7.4-magnitude quake and tsunami hit Central Sulawesi, launching waves as high as six meters that slammed into the island at 800 kph.

Rescue workers were working against the clock to find any remaining survivors, with humanitarian groups estimating that up to 1,000 people were buried under the rubble.

Search efforts focused on eight key locations Friday, including a beach in the Balorao area where the sheer force of the quake turned the earth to mush. After days of initial chaos and looting by desperate survivors, some stability has returned to Palu, with shops slowly reopening and electricity restored in some parts of the city. At least 150 people are unaccounted for beneath the rubble, officials said.

Still, with more than 2,500 people injured and tens of thousands of buildings destroyed, authorities expect the death toll to climb further. Widodo, on his second visit to the disaster zone on Wednesday, acknowledged the aid effort had yet to reach maximum capacity.

"I am hoping for a miracle", said Bambang, who has been searching daily at the hotel site for his pregnant wife.

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In Palu, most affected by the quake, military and disaster management agency's trucks were distributing relief goods along the roads, while the Red Cross distributed blankets and mattresses that were brought to the area by sea, the organisation said.

"But we still can not be sure because there's a possibility that some people managed to get out". "We are relieved that these much-needed supplies have arrived by plane and are starting to get through", Zubedy Koteng from Save the Children said in a statement.

"A disaster could come anytime, no one can predict, but whenever it occurs, we must have the capacity to address it", Nazara told reporters on the sidelines of a book launch by the International Monetary Fund and Bank Indonesia.

But for the area to recover fully from the disaster "will take years", he added.

"The government of Indonesia is experienced and well-equipped in managing natural disasters, but sometimes, as with all other countries, outside help is also needed", United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator Mark Lowcock said in a statement.

An worldwide effort to help is gearing up, after the government overcame a traditional reluctance to take foreign help, according to Reuters.

Indonesia sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire", the world's most tectonically active region, and its 260 million people are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.